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Pacific Storm and Surf Forecast
Updated: January 14, 2008 9:24 PM
Buoys: Northern CA - Southern CA - Hawaii - Gulf of Alaska - Pacific Northwest
Buoy Forecast:
Northern CA - Southern CA - Hawaii - Gulf of Alaska - Pacific Northwest
Pacific Links:  Atmospheric Models - Buoy Data - Current Weather - Wave Models
Forecast Archives: Enter Here
A chronology of recent Mavericks Underground forecasts. Once you enter, just click on the HTML file forecast you want to review (e.g. 073199.html equals July 31, 1999). To view the maps that correspond to that forecast date, select the html file labeled 073199 maps.html
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Swell Potential Rating = 3.0 - California & 3.8 - Hawaii
Using the 'Winter' Scale
(See Swell Category Table link at bottom of page)
Probability for presence of largest swells in near-shore waters of NCal, SCal or Hawaii.    
Issued for Week of Monday 1/14 thru Sun 1/20
Swell Potential Rating Categories
5 = Good probability for 3 or more days of Significant swell
4 = Good probability for 1-2 days of Significant swell
3 = Good probability for 3 or more days of Intermediate/Advanced swell
2 = Good probability for  1-2 days of
Intermediate/Advanced swell
1 = Good probability for 3 or more days of Impulse or Windswell
0 = Low probability for 1-2 days of Impulse or Windswell   

Storm Pattern Shifts West Favoring Hawaii
Jetstream Heavily .cgiit over East Pacific


New Swell Classification Guidelines

Significant: Swell 8 ft @ 14 secs or greater (11+ ft faces) for 8+ hours (greater than double overhead)
Advanced: Swell and period combination capable of generating faces 1.5 times overhead to double overhead (7-10 ft)
Intermediate: Swell and period combination generating faces at head high to 1.5 times overhead (4-7 ft)
Impulse/Windswell: Swell and period combination generating faces up to head high (1-4 ft) or anything with a period less than 11 secs.


On Monday (1/14) Northern CA surf was about 2-3 ft overhead with hard offshores in control. South facing breaks in Santa Cruz were up to 2 ft overhead with decent conditions. Central California surf (Morro Bay) was up to 3 ft overhead with northerly winds. Surf in Southern CA from Santa Barbara to just north of LA was chest high to head high with sets 2 ft overhead at the best breaks. The LA Area southward to Orange County was head high with sets 1 ft overhead at the best breaks. South Orange County down into San Diego best breaks were head high, maybe a little more on the sets. The North Shore of Oahu was 15 ft and hacked. The South Shore was chest high from wrap-around energy. The East Shore was head high from wrap-around swell from the northwest.

North/Central California was starting to settle down after a solid run of significant class surf originating from the dateline on into the Gulf of Alaska. Southern California was still getting decent swell originating from the dateline on into the Gulf, but the trend was downward. Hawaii's North Shore was still getting significant class swell from the dateline (Storm #15) but north winds continued to be an issue. The East Shore was getting a little wrap around energy from that same swell. The South Shore was getting some wrap around energy too, though tiny. The bad news is the big surf is over, but the good news is the Hawaiian Islands are scheduled for moderate surf and better winds. Even some of that is to push east towards California, but much diminished in size upon arrival. Time for mere mortals to rejoin the lineup. See details below...

Congratulations to all the Mavericks Surf Contest Contestants and especially Greg Long and Twiggy Baker for their first and second.cgiace finishes. Jamie Sterling came in third with Tyler Smith fourth, Grant Washburn fifth and Evan Slater sixth. Surf was fun sized in the 15 ft range out of the west-northwest with clear blue skies, warm temperatures and glassy conditions all day. It was a classic Northern California event.


Current marine weather and wave analysis.cgius forecast conditions for the next 72 hours

North Pacific

Mondays jetstream charts (1/14) for the North Pacific indicated a solid jetstream flow pushing flat off Japan at 160-170 kts reaching the dateline, then majorly .cgiitting with the northern branch tracking northeast into Western Alaska and the southern branch heading southeast to the equator. Only the area just east of Kamchatka held any hope to support storm development. Over the next 72 hours the same basic pattern is to hold with the .cgiit point inching it's way east to 170W and winds building to near 190 kts just east of Japan, but the same problems are to.cgiague the East Pacific with a .cgiit flow in control. Again only the Kamchatka area to offer any hope. Beyond 72 hours no significant positive change is forecast and if anything energy levels in the jet are to drop with winds off Japan down to 140 kts and the .cgiit point moving back to the west. If anything, it's looks like the jet might .cgiit just off the Japan coast (not good). Otherwise the northern branch to push even harder to the north up through the Bering Sea while the southern branch pushes directly over Hawaii then into mainland Mexico. No support for surface level storm development expected anywhere over the North Pacific.

At the surface today high pressure was in control of the Northeast Pacific with one centered in the Gulf of Alaska at 1036 mbs and a second at 1036 mbs over Utah ridging west into the Pacific. Actually, this is a pretty typical occurrence for this time of year (the post-Christmas high pressure lockdown). A huge broad but poorly organized low pressure system was centered just off Kamchatka filling the Bering Sea and generating 35-40 kt winds extending from the Kuril Islands southeast towards the dateline but not making it there. This fetch started on Sunday (1/13) at 35 kts producing 27 ft seas pushing 29-30 ft late today and is scheduled to start fading out by Tuesday with seas dropping fast from 30 ft. All seas to be generally in the area of 37N-40N and 160-170E or 2000-2400 nmiles from Hawaii with fetch aimed there down the 306-312 degree paths. Swell expected to start arriving on the North Shore starting late Wed (1/15) with swell 5 ft @ 14-15 secs (7 ft faces) pushing 6 ft @ 13-14 secs (8 ft faces) Thursday. The second batch of swell energy from this one to arrive on Friday (1/18) with swell 8.5 ft @ 15 secs (12 ft faces) fading from 7.8 ft @ 13-14 secs (10 ft faces) early Saturday (1/19). Swell Direction for all about 310 degrees. Trades bringing offshore's to the North Shore expected Thursday and beyond.

Little bits of this to reach exposed breaks in Central and North CA too starting late Thursday (1/17) with swell 4.4 ft @ 14 secs (6 ft faces) holding into early Friday with the secondary swell arriving late Saturday (1/19) pushing 5 ft @ 16 secs (8 ft faces) fading from 6 ft @ 15 secs Sunday (9 ft faces). Swell Direction 295-305 degrees.


North Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height


California Offshore Forecast
As of Monday (1/14) strong high pressure over the Great Basin (Utah area) was generating clear blue ski's and offshore winds. A stronger high pressure system was waiting in the wings moving towards the coast from the Gulf of Alaska, expected to announce it's arrival on Tuesday. no real front is expected, but north wind to pick up dramatically over the Cape Mendocino area to 35-40 kts on into Wednesday creating a summer-like pressure gradient and local windswell. Some of that winds to reach from the San Francisco Bay area down to Point Conception creating chopped surface conditions. But by Thursday it's back to offshore's and clean conditions. The models suggest the high is to not move onshore but rather is to hang off the Pacific Northwest coast in the Gulf providing a much needed dry-out for them but totally locking down the swell production machine (and rain/snow potential for California). The title of the high might make for northerly winds Sunday over Central CA, but otherwise the picture to remain essentially unchanged into next week.


No tropical systems of interest were being tracked.


South Pacific

A very interesting pattern developed in the South Pacific last week with 2 systems of interest occurring.

First up was a tiny 984 mb gale that built under New Zealand starting Wednesday (1/9) and holding through mid-day Friday (1/11) with winds confirmed at 45 kts and producing seas in the 27-30 ft range through it's life, confirmed twice as the Jason-1 satellite passed directly overhead. This one tracked northeast with most fetch moving into the gales west quadrant aimed almost completely north and well at Hawaii up the usual 201 degree path initially then moving towards 190 degrees. Seas in the 29 ft range held till late Friday before this one died out. A good shot of unseasonable southern hemi swell is expected for south shores of the Hawaiian Islands starting Thursday (1/17) with swell 1.6 ft @ 17 secs (2.5-3.0 ft faces) peaking Friday (1/18) at 2 ft @ 14 secs (3 ft faces) then settling down Saturday (1/19) from 2.3 ft @ 13 secs (3 ft faces). Swell Direction: 190-200 degrees.

A second storm developed under New Zealand Friday PM (1/11) with winds in the 50 kt range and seas to 30 ft. This one took a easterly track with fetch aimed mostly east to east-northeast, reasonably towards the US West Coast and Central America with sideband energy towards Hawaii. The peak occurring on late Saturday into Sunday (1/13) with seas confirmed by the Jason-1 satellite at 33.6 ft at 56S 172W Sat PM and modeled up to 35 ft all day Sunday from 56S 164W moving to 53S 155W. Rough data suggest swell pushing into Hawaii by Sun (1/20) with swell 1.6 ft @ 17 secs early (2.5-3.0 ft faces) likely fading to 1.4 ft @ 14-15 secs (2 ft faces) Monday (1/21). Swell Direction 185-190 degrees. Southern California to see tiny swell starting Tuesday (1/22) with period 18 secs.


South Pacific Animations: Jetstream - Surface Pressure/Wind - Sea Height - Surf Height




Marine weather and forecast conditions 3-10 days into the future

North Pacific

Beyond 72 hrs the models suggest a small new storm forming just east of the dateline early Thursday (1/17) with pressure 980 mbs producing a tiny fetch of 55 kt winds aimed initially at Hawaii then swinging to the east by evening. Seas building to 30 ft at 37N 178E. But by Friday AM it's to hit the impenetrable wall of high pressure east of the dateline, and track directly north with all fetch in it's south quadrant aimed at either Hawaii or the Mainland dissipating. Residual fetch to continue producing some 45 kt northwest winds just west of the dateline Friday and producing more seas in the 30 ft range at 38N 170E aimed best at Hawaii. This to result in swell for Hawaii's Northern Shores starting early Sunday (1/20) 7.2 ft @ 15 secs (10-11 ft faces) from 310-315 degrees and maybe something much smaller for exposed breaks on the mainland Tuesday (1/22).

Yet another similar system to develop Sunday (1/20) over the dateline lifting northeast to north up the dateline into Monday with up to 60 kt winds in it's south quadrant favoring targets in California. Seas forecast into the 40 ft range over a tiny area and mostly aimed north of even the US West coast. Will monitor.

Another system is forecast building just off Japan by Monday (1/21).


Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) Update: Starting about 1/1/2008 the MJO started moving into the active phase with a strong area of reversed winds at the 850 mb level starting to encroach into the far Western Tropical Pacific and east-bound. On Sat (1/5) the SOI was very positive reading 40 with no signs of dipping into negative territory. By Monday (1/7) it dipped to 6 then lifted slightly to 12 a day later and has held there through Monday (1/14). We had actually expected a dip into the negative territory, but that looks unlikely at this date. The model depicts these anomalous winds currently tracking east over the dateline as of today and are expected to continue their eastbound travels and fade out totally by the end of the month with the inactive phase building momentum right behind. We suspect this incarnation of the MJO has been fueling the enhanced storm pattern that resulted in a string of solid surf for the first half of January, but that it's benefits may already be waning with little else solid likely to result.


South Pacific

Beyond 72 hours the models suggest yet 2 more system are to track east from under New Zealand across the South Pacific with the first starting Tuesday (1/15) and the second on Friday (1/18). Both are to be very small and following a strict west to east track, though seas to near 30 ft are expected. Due to the heading only very limited energy (if even that) is expected to radiate north towards either Hawaii or California.

Details to follow...


External Reference Material: El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO), Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), Kelvin Wave

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Local Interest

Sharkwater: There's a new feature film called Sharkwater that is hitting theaters November 2nd. Sharkwater is an award winning documentary (22 international film awards including the UN and Cannes) that broke box office records in Canada, opening to bigger numbers than any documentary in history save Fahrenheit 911 and Supersize Me. It is a conservation film that demonstrates that the biggest influence on the air we breathe, and global warming is life in the oceans except life in the oceans is being wiped out. Shark populations have dropped 90% in the last 30 years alone, and the oceans continue to be destroyed because nobody knows that it's happening Learn more here:

Bluewater Gold Rush: The first and only chronicle of the California sea urchin dive fishery. Diving, surfing, comedy, and tragedy on and under the waves of California. "A quintessential tale of California ... dramas of adventure and loss on and under the sea" We read it and it's a great story about the bloom of the urchin diving boom in the 70's and the few lucky souls who were right there when it took off. An easy read that's hard to put down. The trials and success of a 'real' California dream right down to it's core. Check it out here:

Submit your story to 'Surfings Greatest Misadventures: Vol. 2': DEADLINE: January 15th, 2008 Casagrande Press is seeking stories, articles, and essays on the general subject of surfing misadventure for publication in Surfings Greatest Misadventures: Volume 2. We are looking for nonfiction, first-person surf stories of bad judgment calls, pranks, comical/ironic episodes, disaster, attacking predators, misfortune, injury, loss of wit or limb, panic, critical conditions, contest meltdowns, everyday fears, surf trips gone wrong or the out-of-water episodes that surround surfing. We are looking for well-written stories that tell a good tale, reflect a culture, and develop the depth of the characters involved. We also like stories that have a tight narrative tension and a payoff at the end. Open to writers and surfers of any level. There is no fee to submit a story. We will consider previously published stories. To see more info on the first book visit Submit online at

Waveriders Gallery: Check out this collection of high quality artwork all related to waves and the ocean. Surf Paintings, Photography, Posters, Books, Boards and exhibits all produced by a variety of top artists provide a beautiful selection of pieces to chose from. Take and look and see some of the stunning work available from these artists.

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